Tuesday, May 19, 2020

gluten- and dairy-free ground-beef stroganoff

I gathered a few ideas here and there to use what I had on hand to make ground-beef stroganoff. One of the boys says this is one of his favorite meals now. These are approximate measurements, so use what you have in your kitchen and adjust it to your taste and what ingredients you can procure in your country.

You'll need:
  • mushrooms of your choice (I used Japanese bunashimeji, or white beech mushrooms)
  • 600 g ground beef
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 cup water + 1 bouillon cube
  • 1 cup soy milk mixed with 2 tablespoons katakuriko (potato starch), or you could use cornstarch or flour
  • 1 cup soy yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • cooked rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes to serve
  • sliced green onions for garnish
Do this:

Saute your butter with the onions, garlic, and mushrooms till soft and a bit browned, then add the beef, mustard, salt and pepper, and water and bouillon cube. When everything is cooked through and has simmered a little bit, add in the soy milk mixed with katakuriko (potato starch), and then the yogurt and parsley. When it's thickened and has cooked for a bit, serve over rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes and add sliced green onions on top for garnish if desired.

This is a new surprising addition to our menu rotation, which I conjured up at the last minute tonight because I decided I wasn't in the mood for what I had originally planned. It was a hit of Russian, American, and Japanese fusion. And maybe a little French from the Dijon mustard. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

chocolate-tofu brownie muffins

Because we're all pretty nutty anyway, I usually make them without the walnuts (I love them in; my kids don't).

These are called "Easy Brownies" (in Japanese, though) in my favorite dessert cookbook, Heta Oyatsu (which translates to something like badly-made snack, or unhealthy snack, which is opposite to what the book is actually about!). I don't think I've even ever made them as brownies as the recipe stipulates; it's easier just to do muffins. And nobody complains.

I've changed the recipe just slightly--it calls for coconut oil but I use grapeseed, and I put in less sugar and no honey. Also, the batter tends to be too dry so I splash in some soy milk as needed. My son Matthew made them with me for the first time tonight, and he was surprised that I usually whisk by hand--he got out the electric mixer and they definitely came out creamier.

You'll need:
  • 300 g soft (silken) tofu
  • 150 g rice flour
  • 50 g almond flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 8 g baking powder
  • 30 g rum (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 100 g grapeseed oil
  • splashes of soy milk as needed
Do this:

With your electric mixer, mix the tofu on its own, with a splash or two of soy milk, until it's creamy. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend together till well mixed. Spoon into muffin cups, and bake for 10 minutes on 170 c and then about 5 minutes longer on 160 C. 

Serve with tea and chocolate-induced happiness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

gluten- and dairy-free apple-walnut pancakes

(photo by my son Joel)

This comes by way of one of my favorite wedding gifts from one of my favorite professors--the More-with-Less Cookbook has been well loved and used in our household since 2001!

Since I received the book way back then, I've had to change my eating habits, so I've amended this recipe to be gluten- and dairy-free--I also spiced it up!

You'll need:
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1.5 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground ginger
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup diced apples
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Do this:

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and combine the liquid ingredients well in a separate bowl, then pour into the dry ingredients and stir. Then add in the apples and walnuts and cook as per usual for pancakes. We had them for dinner one night, along with some sausages! 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

yuzu-ginger (or fig syrup, or mixed berry) almond-flour thumbprint jam cookies

I've used various recipes for thumbprint cookies over the years (from Elana's Pantry to Spunky Coconut), but this time I wanted something simple and totally quick. This recipe from Power Hungry fit the bill.

(And since I've made this, the price of almond flour has doubled in Japan, so last night I tried again with a mixture of almond flour, rice flour, and katakuriko, which is potato starch. I'll post that different recipe below this one.)

You'll need:
  • 1 cup almond flour 
  • 2 tablespoons Okinawan brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • jam of your choice
Do this:

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add in the water. Drops by spoonfuls on to a baking sheet and then wet a measuring spoon between making an indention in the top of each one. Drop a dollop of jam into each well and bake at 350 F/170 C for about 12 minutes.

(The above photo is some fig syrup given to me as a gift, which I used in some of these cookies. I also tried some strawberry jam, and some homemade yuzu (citron) jam from a friend, who has her own yuzu tree.)

Here's an optional recipe from Spunky Coconut, which I tweaked! The texture is a bit different, a bit thicker and heavier than the above all-almond-flour one.

You'll need: 
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup katakuriko (potato starch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 egg
Do this:

Mix the dry ingredients separately than the wet ones. Then mix them together and mold into the thumbprint cookie shape and add your jam. Bake at 350 F/170 C for about 12 minutes. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

quick and easy pickled radishes

I'm always ready for radishes!

I found this recipe here and am determined to keep it on hand always. My version is slightly different, so here you go.

You'll need:
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • several cloves of garlic, sliced
  • red pepper flakes (I put these in an empty tea bag to put into the jar--you can buy these fillable tea bags at any Japanese supermarket)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I used Okinawan brown sugar because that's what I keep on hand)
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
Do this:

Fill your jar with radishes and garlic, alternating layers, then mix the liquid and sugar and salt together and pour over the top. Stuff the tea bag with red pepper flakes down in the side.

Put in the fridge for half an hour or so and then devour! 

Friday, January 3, 2020

paleo carrot cake with cashew "cream cheese" frosting

I've made this a number of times now, including for our "see you later" party for our Vietnamese friend Ha Vinh:

It's a beautiful cake on its own and doesn't even need frosting, unless you want to go whole hog (or whole cashew!). 

I just made it again on New Year's Day, this first and beautiful day of 2020.

Reading War and Peace with a piece of carrot cake: perfect! 

The recipe came into our kitchen via The Roasted Root here, and the cashew frosting was from their website too (make sure you soak your cashews overnight the night before). 

For the cake, I left out the coconut, which I can't have, and I substituted 1/4 cup katakuriko (Japanese potato-starch flour) and 1/4 cup rice flour instead of the 1/2 cup tapioca starch called for in the recipe.

Enjoy, but be warned, this cake takes some time to put together. 

For the cake itself, you'll need:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup katakuriko potato starch 
  • 1/4 cup rice flour (or instead of the katakuriko and rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 cups grated carrots (I do this in my food processor)
Do this: 

Blend everything except the walnuts, raisins, and carrots, then add those in at the end and stir by hand. Pour into a 10-inch springform pan that's been oiled and lined on the bottom with baking paper, then bake at 170 C/350 F for at least 40 minutes. Check the whole cake to make sure it's not squidgy in any area. Allow to cool.

For the frosting, you'll need:
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight and then drained and patted dry with a towel
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Do this:

Add the cashews into a food processor and blend for a number of minutes until a thick paste forms. While the processor is running, drizzle in the remaining ingredients until smooth. Frost your cake, top with chopped nuts or whatever you like, and share with friends and family. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

gluten- and dairy-free cornbread

I gotta be honest with you--this is not your grandma's cornbread. If you need it gluten- and dairy-free, it just can't be. But as a substitute, it's not bad! I like mine with chili.

Jamie Oliver has a good recipe that I finagle a tiny bit. Here's my riff on his version.

You'll need:
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free baking mix (including salt and baking powder)
  • 1.5 cups cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons grapeseed (or other neutral-flavored) oil
Do this:

Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, mix ingredients together, and pour into the dish. Bake at 180 C for about 23 minutes. The cornbread will turn a bit brown (or fox-colored as they say in Japan) and will be firm in the middle. This is great as muffins too! 

Call me crazy, but I love this leftover, heated up again, and spread with homemade (unsweetened!) peanut butter. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

sausage, bean, and veg soup: enjoying the end-of-summer produce

I have to eat as much zucchini as I can while it's still in the stores this season! (And for many years, we couldn't get it here in Japan at all.)

Along with this summery soup (is that an oxymoron?), I made these delicious savoury gluten- and dairy-free goat-cheese herb muffins (though I use sheep-milk feta now since Costco doesn't carry the goat cheese anymore). 

For the soup, you'll need:
  • zucchini
  • carrots
  • onions (I had purple ones on hand)
  • garlic cloves (use a bunch!)
  • sweet yellow pepper
  • green beans
  • mushrooms
  • 2 cans of (drained) kidney beans
  • sausages, sliced
  • bay leaves
  • dried mixed herbs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • chicken broth
Do this:

Simmer up and serve with love.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

gluten- and dairy-free pumpkin or banana-chicory muffins: one recipe base

Since my coconut allergy diagnosis a few months ago, I've had to give away my coconut flour, oil, and shredded coconut. We've mostly switched to almond flour, though I don't bake very often because of the high cost of gluten-free products here in Japan. 

I found a paleo pumpkin muffin recipe, which I've adapted to what I can eat and changed into two variations here.

For the pumpkin muffins:

You'll need:
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup (lower glycemic index than maple syrup or honey)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I mix my own and keep it in a jar)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • raisins
Do this:

Mix everything in a mixing bowl, spoon into muffin cups, and bake at 180 C for about 14 minutes. 

For the banana-chicory muffins:

You'll need:
  • 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large banana)
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 4 tablespoons chicory powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 cups almond flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • raisins or chocolate chips, if desired
Do this:

Mix everything in a mixing bowl, spoon into muffins cups, and bake at 180 C for about 14 minutes.

Enjoy with a hot cuppa in the Japanese August. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019


I can't remember how I first heard about shakshuka, but I'm guessing it was from our Israeli friends who visited and stayed with us a couple years ago. It's now one of my favorites: a seasoned, flavorful tomato sauce base with delicious clouds of floating eggs cooked right in. I top it with feta cheese and parsley, and serve it over quinoa. The little crunchy summery salad to go with it had yellow tomatoes, cucumbers, purple onion, salt and pepper, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and feta.

This shakshuka recipe was inspired by Tori Avey's

You'll need:
  • 2 cans of diced organic tomatoes (about 400 g each)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • about 6 or 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • green or red sweet pepper, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 7 eggs
  • pinch of sugar
  • feta and parsley, for topping
Do this:

Saute the onion, garlic, green pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil in a frying pan, then add in the spices, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Simmer for a little while, then break each egg individually in a separate small bowl and gently pour each one into the tomato sauce mixture. Bubble till the eggs look set, then crumble some feta cheese and sprinkle some parsley over the top. 

This is the creamiest way to eat eggs--they just melt in your mouth. And the sharpness of the tomato sauce is such a good foil. 

I could probably eat this at least once a week until the end of my days. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

easy gluten- and dairy-free summer lunch

Easy summertime lunch: endou mame (sugar snap peas), Kewpie carrot-orange dressing, grapes, feta cheese (Costco), black bean and quinoa tortilla chips (Costco), boiled egg, and (not shown) an avocado.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

basil-coconut-curry chicken

I don't remember where I originally got this recipe, and I've been making it for years, but of course I've changed it some. It was perfect for when we moved back to Japan and didn't have an oven yet--you just need a rice cooker and a frying pan.

This is a good amount for four people, with a little bit leftover for two kids the next day. 

You'll need:
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • one onion, chopped
  • many garlic cloves, minced
  • oil for cooking (I use coconut) 
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch (katakuriko)
  • this spice mix: 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1.5 teaspoons sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon powdered ginger, and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Do this:

Cut up the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and coat with the spice mix. Chill in the fridge for an hour or two. Get your rice going in your rice cooker.

After the chicken has done its thang in the fridge, fry the chopped onion and the minced garlic in the coconut oil, then add in the chicken. When it's cooked through, mix the can of coconut milk with the cornstarch (or potato starch) and pour in. Let it simmer a little bit until it's heated through and thickened, then serve over rice.

Somehow the basil and curry and creamy-sweet coconut milk really work together! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

sweet-and-salty chocolate snacks: potato chips and popcorn

I was inspired by some chocolate-covered potato chips in a canister at the convenience store, but of course they were expensive and the chocolate wasn't fair trade. So I bought some ridged potato chips, and my son helped me melt some fair-trade dark chocolate and coconut oil together, then he dipped the chips in and laid them on a silicone baking sheet before putting in the fridge to set.

They were so delicious that we then tried it with some salted popcorn, too, and my son suggested dried cranberries as well. We used the same chocolate and coconut oil mixture. Yummy!

Friday, January 18, 2019

easy weeknight slow-cooker orange-ginger chicken

This is one of the simplest weeknight meals I make: white and brown rice mixed (in the rice cooker), orange-ginger chicken breasts in the slow cooker, and green beans (organic frozen: I saute them in the frying pan with olive oil and sea salt). 

I borrowed this recipe from Diethood, but of course have made it my own (I'm not sure what's "diet" about it--it's just really good flavors).

You'll need:
  • 4 chicken breasts, with no skin
  • 3/4 c. orange marmalade (I sometimes use Korean yuzu/citron)
  • fresh ginger, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic cloves
  • oil for greasing the liner of your slow cooker
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • for topping: toasted sesame seeds, sliced green onions, red pepper flakes
Do this: 

Grease your slow-cooker liner, place the chicken breasts inside, and in a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except for the toppings. I cooked mine on low heat for about 5 or 6 hours.

Serve over rice with the toppings, and make sure you don't put the red pepper flakes on your childrens' portions. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

"dry curry"

This is my version of what Japanese people call "dry curry," which means it's not saucy. Although this one was pretty spunky.

There are no measurements here! 

You'll need:
  • ground beef and pork mix
  • grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
  • carrots
  • onions
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • kabocha pumpkin (I didn't use it this time, but sometimes do)
  • cherry tomatoes, or a can of chopped tomatoes
  • turmeric
  • curry powder
  • cinnamon
  • parsley
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • tomato paste
  • frozen peas, thawed and drained
  • a little water
  • lemon juice at the end
Do this:

Saute the veggies in oil and then steam in a little water to soften. Add in the meat and cook till done, then add the rest of the ingredients (adding in a tablespoon or two of lemon juice at the end). Serve over rice.